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How Likely Is Nayib Bukele's Future Re-election?

The current president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, announced his intention to compete for a consecutive re-election

Nayib Bukele

Photo: TW-nayibbukele

LatinAmerican Post| Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: ¿Qué tan probable es la futura reelección de Nayib Bukele?

Nayib Bukele is one of the most recognized and popular politicians in Latin America. His fresh communication, his use of social networks, populist measures (such as donating his presidential salary), and unusual policies (betting on Bitcoin), have given him press around the world.

It is true that many human rights organizations have raised alarm about the policy against criminal gangs promoted by the Salvadoran government, and that several members of the international community have warned of possible democratic risks in the Central American country. However, these facts have not caught on with President Bukele's approval.

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Today the Salvadoran president even enjoys greater support than several of his neighbors throughout the continent. This has allowed him to gradually take over the presidency, congress, courts, and public force. Currently, the opposition in El Salvador is diminished.

How likely is Nayib Buekele to be re-elected?

In electoral terms, Nayib Bukele and his party, Nuevas Ideas, have all the support, both in terms of votes and institutions, and campaign strength to once again sweep the polls. According to figures from CID Gallup and replicated by the Government itself, Buekele today has 85% of Salvadoran approval. He would sweep away any form of opposition that arises.

However, the doubts are not about the support, which has so much in the people, in the legislature, in the courts and in the Military Forces. The doubt arises in constitutional terms. The Constitution of El Salvador would prohibit his immediate re-election.

Opposition and independent groups warn that the Magna Carta prohibits a president from being re-elected. The National Association of Private Enterprise said in a statement that there are up to 6 articles of the constitution that would not allow Bukele to be re-elected.

The ANEP highlights articles 75, 88, 131, 152, 154 and 248, there may be arguments that hinder the aspiration of the current president. Additionally, previous rulings of the Constitutional Chamber ratified this position in 2014 and 2020.

However, since September 2021, Bukele has already been working on this project. It was at that time that the ruler elected (with the help of his party in Congress) magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court. This move allowed him, from there, to modify the norm that prohibited his re-election.

So, the norm, which explicitly called for a 10-year interval between a government and its re-election, was annulled. Now it is the citizens themselves who will define, through their vote, whether or not they want immediate re-election.

Likewise, if new legal problems arise, Bukele today has enough votes in Congress to pass a constitutional reform that facilitates his candidacy. Which would make him the first Salvadoran president to seek immediate re-election.

This modification by Bukele recalls similar measures by other populist governments in the region, such as Álvaro Uribe in Colombia or Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, among others.